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Comparison of Five Erosion Control Techniques for Bladed Skid Trails in Virginia

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Sediment is the leading nonpoint source pollutant from forest operations in the United States. Sediment in forested watersheds is produced primarily from highly disturbed areas, such as skid trails. Forestry best management practices (BMPs) have been developed to minimize erosion and water quality problems, but the efficacies of various BMP options are not well documented. This study evaluated five bladed skid trail closure BMPs for erosion control in the Piedmont of Virginia. The BMP closures evaluated were (1) water bar only; (2) water bar and grass seed (grass); (3) water bar, grass seed, and straw mulch (mulch); (4) water bar and piled hardwood slash (H-slash); and (5) water bar and piled pine slash (P-slash). The study was arranged as a randomized complete block design where six newly constructed trails provided six blocks. Five treatments were applied to five segments within each block. Erosion from the 30 treatment plots (experimental units) was captured in sediment traps and weighed monthly for 13 months, providing 78 erosion weights per treatment. Results indicate that water bar was the most erosive closure method (137.7 t [metric tons] ha−1 year−1), followed by grass (31.5 t ha−1 year−1), H-slash (8.9 t ha−1 year−1), P-slash (5.9 t ha−1 year−1), and mulch (3.0 t ha−1 year−1). Overall, BMPs that provide soil coverage levels similar to either slash or mulch closure should provide good erosion control, and final selection should be based on costs, availability of material, or landowner objectives.

Keywords: BMP; forest operations; forest roads; water quality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-11-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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